Caroline has the unique distinction of being both a student and teacher. She’s a student at the Harvard Grad school of Ed, where she work with Dr. Chris Dede and she is a teacher to myself and, I suspect, many others who are reading this blog, about the promise and potential of open-source computing and specifically Sugar. Welcome, Caroline! --Mark W.
How can we get Sugar—a learning platform designed specifically for elementary education—into the hands of as many students as possible and as efficiently as possible?
"Sugar on a Stick" is a new approach to this problem: the "stick" is a 1-GB USB storage device loaded with a bootable version of Sugar. Many schools in the US have already invested in computers for their classrooms and increasingly households also already have computers. But there are challenges to using these computers: old computers, fear of viruses, differences in what resources children have access to at home. Sugar on a Stick circumvents these problems, providing each student with the best learning platform available using different hardware at home, school or the library. And schools can leverage their previous investments (buying new laptops is not a likely scenario in the current economic climate).
Booting a computer with Sugar on a USB stick gives the student all the advantages of the Sugar platform—tools for expression, collaboration, and reflection—and yet it does not touch the host computer's hard-drive. In a school or library or home, this means you aren't changing anything on the existing computers: rebooting without the USB stick gives you exactly the same computer and software as you had before.
The no-hard-drive-required feature expands computer purchasing and donation options; corporations can remove hard drives—and thus all sensitive data—before donating to a school.
The first pilot of Sugar on a Stick will begin this fall at the Gardner School, a pre-K to 5th-grade Boston Public school, located in Allston, just six blocks from the Harvard Business School. Gardner serves and ethnically diverse student population with more then 85% eligible for free lunch.